Answering Your Child's Questions


 
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Talking About Feelings

It is natural for children of any age to feel anxiety and fear. Listen to any concerns they may share and let them know that you understand why they feel worried or scared. Their behavior might also offer clues to what they feel. For example, signs of stress may include: lack of sleep, a drop in the quality of their schoolwork, a decrease in motivation, or an increase in aggressive behavior.

Keeping Your Feelings in Check

Emotions can run high in anyone affected by economic change. Because you are the most important role model your children have, it is essential to be aware of your own feelings before talking with them. When you feel impatient, take a break and ask others for help taking care of your children.

Children might have many questions, some of which you won’t know the answers to. That’s OK. Whether a child is a preschooler or older, they simply need your honesty and reassurance. Share the information you think they can understand and deal with, as you know your children best.

  • Are we going to be OK? “Yes. We are working on this to make it OK.”
  • Why did Mommy lose her job? “It is not Mommy’s fault. This is happening to a lot of families right now because some companies, schools, hospitals, and others don’t need as many workers as they did before.”
  • Why do we have to move? “Because we don’t have as much money to pay for our house. Remember a house is not a home. Home is where our family is.”
  • Is this my fault? “No, this is not your fault. It is no one’s fault. It just happened.”
  • When will we be able to do the same things again? “I don’t know, but I do know that we’ll find new ways of doing things and getting what we need.”
  • Why can’t we buy this? “Because we don’t have the money for it right now. You might want a new toy, but we must save our money so we can buy things we need, like food.”

Regardless of the anxieties your children might have, you can reassure them that some things, such as the love you share for one another, will always remain the same.

Moving Forward

As time goes by, depending on their ages, your children will have different needs for continuing to talk about what is happening. Here are a few tips for talking to your children through difficult times.

For young children, you might have to answer the same questions again and again. Your patience, persistence, and consistency in answering their questions will help them understand what is happening.

For older children, have an ongoing conversation about their experiences. First ask what their concerns are, to get a sense of what they know. Sometimes they will ask questions and share what’s on their mind. Answering them in specific ways can help you comfort and assure your older children without burdening them with too much information.

Next: From Talk to Action

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